Football Stadiums tells the stories of about 150 of the great stadiums -- active and retired -- across the country that have hosted pro football or college football play. They are home to current NFL franchises and the best college teams and a source of endless fascination, research, discussion, and even pilgrimages. To serious fans, they are hallowed ground.
The NFL Stadiums chapters cover the big winners and the forever determined. Teams include the Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.
College stadiums are home to impassioned youth, future NFLers and the devoted communities they call home. They include Aloha Stadium (Hawaii), Autzen Stadium (Oregon), Cotton Bowl (Dallas), Folsom Field (Boulder), Memorial Stadium (Clemson), Michigan Stadium (Ann Arbor), Rose Bowl (Pasadena), Yale Bowl (New Haven) and Memorial Stadium (Champaign).
Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers, has been called "a shrine to pro football." It takes just over 73,000 fans to fill its seats yet more than 81,000 names are on the season-ticket waiting list. The average wait time is 30 years. That's just one of the country's many stadiums that embody the spirit of the game. Football Stadiums is a loving tribute to the sport's greatest shrines.
Lew Freedman is an author and sports editor for The Republic in Columbus, Indiana, where he lives. He has been sports editor with the Chicago Tribune, where he covered the Bears, and has worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Anchorage Daily News. His books include Pittsburgh Steelers: The Complete Illustrated History and Chicago Bears Stadium Tales.
The word "stadium" connotes something big and impressive, a vast acreage with seats stretching to the sky. In our minds stadiums are larger than other sports venues, with mythical proportions linking back to the Roman Colosseum--or Coliseum--that could seat 50,000, an unbelievable figure when compared to today's stadiums. Even though Italy didn't have a football team at the time it was built--between 72 and 80 A.D. (yes, construction took eight years)--it may justifiably be said that the Colosseum is the ancestor of all football stadiums. The word "coliseum" has its roots in the word "colossal." The Colosseum's construction of concrete and stone provided an enduring formidability that seems appropriate.
Then, as now, the stadium is a community gathering place, an opportunity for sporting fans to come together and cheer for favorites in competition. In Rome the spectacles regularly featured gladiators, and now, football players are often referred to as gladiators. Some football stadiums are among the most famous buildings in the country. The Los Angeles Coliseum may be most actively used for football, but it twice hosted the Summer Olympics. Yankee Stadium was built for baseball, but was home to professional football for decades. The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, is an incredibly significant landmark, not because it is the weekly home of a football team, but because it is the home stadium of the most popular annual college football game.
College football was more popular than the pros during much of the 20th century, and end-of-the-season holiday bowl games helped to make the names of the host stadiums widely known even among non-dedicated fans who never ventured far from their recliners. Following in prominence behind the Rose Bowl were the Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, and the Cotton Bowl and even casual sports fans recognized those place names--and they may have secretly wished to visit them one day.
Television spread the lore of individual stadiums. When a sports fan tuned in on a Saturday he was often presented with a spectacle unique to a region and the names of the local coliseums reverberated.
During the Roman Coliseum's heyday a gathering spot that could hold 50,000 people was gargantuan. Yet gradually, as passions increased and spread, with some college football teams carrying the hopes and dreams of entire regions, campus stadiums were expanded, and expanded ... and expanded. Relying on the sharpest architects to preserve the unique, sentimental traits of an aging building while managing to update the seat selection and other amenities, colleges poured hundreds of millions of dollars into enlarging their beloved stadiums. The result is that many of the largest sporting venues in the United States are college football stadiums. Each Saturday in the fall when home games are scheduled, more than 100,000 people collect at Penn State University, the University of Tennessee, Ohio State University of Alabama, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Austin, Texas. The Los Angeles Coliseum used to be larger, but remodeling trimmed capacity to the 93,000 range. These are the biggest buildings in the nation where people gather to view an activity more than once or twice a year. They are eclipsed in size only by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, selected auto racing tracks, and a few horse racing tracks.
No National Football League stadium tops official accommodation of more than 80,000 people, although the recently built Cowboys Stadium in Texas was somehow configured to hold more than 100,000 people for the 2011 Super Bowl.
Size alone does not define the atmosphere of a stadium. Sometimes new and gleaming construction efforts are pleasing to the eye and engage the senses. In more tradition-bound communities when the stadium needs work, the local powers gave considerable thought to the form it should take.
In Chicago, home of the Bears, when the team felt aging Soldier Field had to be updated, the challenge was to add modern amenities yet not tamper with the fundamental structure that had won the stadium a place on the list as a National Historic Landmark. The fact that they did not succeed doesn't belittle their attempts, rather it reflects the rigidity of the powers that administer the heritage list system.
In Green Bay, the continuous, mushrooming popularity of the Packers convinced team officials that the stadium where the team played, built in 1957, needed major renovation. They have repeatedly tweaked and lovingly worked with the original to expand seating and add new features. Fans become very attached to their stadiums. Neither Chicago residents nor Green Bay residents would have been easily persuaded to favor building entirely new ones. One thing all stadiums have in common is the potential to be an integral part of the scene when special memories are made. Ultimately, it is up to the performance of the stadium's team to become progenitors of those memories, but the site is always inexplicably linked to the achievement. There is always an added luster when an accomplishment is recorded at home.
Home-field advantage is often spoken of in sports: it is as if the inanimate stadium and the very animated fans collude to create a special atmosphere in support of the gladiators representing the community. It is human nature to respond better to cheers than boos. If a big game is won, a championship is captured, then the stadium where it occurred becomes part of the story line.
Stadiums play one additional role in the making of enduring memories. With the exception of the extensive festivities that generally attend the grand opening of a stadium, it takes time for a stadium to earn its stripes. Yes, fans will be proud to say they were there the day the first game was ever played at a new stadium. But in the psyche of the fan, longevity matters more. Stadiums become the home for generations of the same family--father takes son to the game, who takes his own son to the game, then grandfather, father, and grandson attend together. The stadium is one of the most important common denominators, so long as the amenities are kept up to date.
Players and coaches come and go. Years pass and families go through changes. The stadium--made of concrete and steel--remains.
1 NFL Stadiums
AFC East Buffalo Bills Orchard Park NY Miami Dolphins Miami Gardens FL New England Patriots Foxboro MA New York Jets Florham Park NJ
AFC North Baltimore Ravens Baltimore MD Cincinnati Bengals Cincinnati OH Cleveland Browns Cleveland OH Pittsburgh Steelers Pittsburgh PA
AFC South Houston Texans Houston TX Indianapolis Colts Indianapolis IN Jacksonville Jaguars Jacksonville FL Tennessee Titans Nashville TN
AFC West Denver Broncos Denver CO Kansas City Chiefs Kansas City MO Oakland Raiders Oakland CA San Diego Chargers San Diego CA
NFC East Dallas Cowboys Arlington TX New York Giants East Rutherford NJ Philadelphia Eagles PA Washington Redskins Landover MD
NFC North Chicago Bears Chicago IL Detroit Lions Detroit MI Green Bay Packers Green Bay WI Minnesota Vikings Minneapolis MN
NFC South Atlanta Falcons Atlanta GA Carolina Panthers Charlotte NC New Orleans Saints New Orleans LA Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tampa FL
NFC West Arizona Cardinals Glendale AZ St. Louis Rams St Louis MO San Francisco 49ers San Francisco CA Seattle Seahawks Seattle WA
2 College Football Stadiums
Aloha Stadium Honolulu HI Amon G. Carter Stadium Fort Worth TX Arizona Stadium Tucson AZ Autzen Stadium Eugene OR Beaver Stadium University Park PA Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field Gainsville FL Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium Manhattan KS Blaik Field at Michie Stadium West Point NY Bobby Bowden Field Tallahassee FL Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field Atlanta GA Boone Pickens Stadium Stillwater OK Brigham Field at Huskie Stadium DeKalb IL Bright House Networks Stadium Orlando FL Bronco Stadium Boise ID Bryant-Denny Stadium Tuscaloosa AL Byrd Stadium College Park MD California Memorial Stadium Berkeley CA Camp Randall Stadium Madison WI Carter-Finley Stadium Raleigh NC Commonwealth Stadium Lexington KY Cotton Bowl Dallas TX Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium Austin TX Davis Wade Stadium Starkville MS Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium Greenville NC Falcon Stadium Colorado Springs CO Fawcett Stadium Canton OH Floyd Casey Stadium Waco TX Folsom Field Boulder CO Frank Broyles Field Fayetteville AK Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium Norman OK Gerald J. Ford Stadium University Park TX High Point Solutions Stadium Piscataway NJ Husky Stadium Seattle WA Jack Trice Stadium Ames IA Jones AT&T Stadium Lubbock TX Jordan-Hare Stadium Auburn AL Kenan Memorial Stadium Chapel Hill NC Kinnick Stadium Iowa City IA Kyle Field College Station TX Lane Stadium Blacksburg VA LaVell Edwards Stadium Provo UT Legion Field Birmingham AL Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium Memphis TN Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Los Angeles CA Memorial Stadium Clemson SC Memorial Stadium Champagne IL Memorial Stadium Bloomington IN Memorial Stadium Lawrence KS Memorial Stadium Lincoln NE Michigan Stadium Ann Arbor MI M. M. Roberts Stadium Hattiesburg MI Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium Morgantown WV Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium Annapolis MD Neyland Stadium Knoxville TN Nippert Stadium Cincinnati OH Notre Dame Stadium South Bend IN Ohio Stadium Columbus OH Papa John's Cardinal Stadium Louisville KY Rentschler Field East Hartford CT Reser Stadium Corvallis OR Rice Stadium Houston TX Rice-Eccles Stadium Salt Lake City UT Robertson Stadium Houston TX Rose Bowl Pasadena CA Ross-Ade Stadium West Lafayette IN Ryan Field Evanston IL Sam Boyd Stadium Las Vegas NV Scott Stadium Charlottesville VA Spartan Stadium East Lansing MI Stanford Stadium Stanford CA Sun Bowl Stadium El Paso TX Sun Devil Stadium Tempe AZ TCF Bank Stadium Minneapolis MN Tiger Stadium Baton Rouge LA Vaught-Hemingway Stadium at Hollingsworth Field Oxford MI Williams-Brice Stadium Columbia SC Yale Bowl New Haven CT
3 Famous and Demolished Stadiums
Anaheim Stadium Los Angeles CA Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium Atlanta GA Busch Memorial Stadium St. Louis MI Cleveland Stadium Cleveland OH County Stadium Milwaukee WI Ebbets Field Brooklyn NJ Forbes Field Pittsburgh PA Foxboro Stadium Foxborough MA Gator Bowl Stadium Jacksonville FL John F. Kennedy Stadium Philadelphia PA Kezar Stadium San Francisco CA Kingdome Seattle WA Memorial Stadium Baltimore MD Memorial Stadium Minneapolis MN Metropolitan Stadium Bloomington MN Miami Orange Bowl Miami FL Mile High Stadium Denver CO Municipal Stadium Kansas City MO Pitt Stadium Pittsburgh PA Polo Grounds New York NY Pontiac Silverdome Pontiac MI RCA Dome Indianapolis IN Reliant Astrodome Houston TX Riverfront Stadium Cincinnati OH Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium Washington DC Shea Stadium New York NY Shibe Park Philadelphia PA Sportsman's Park St. Louis MO Tampa Stadium Tampa FL Texas Stadium Dallas TX Three Rivers Stadium Pittsburgh PA Tiger Stadium Detroit MI Tulane Stadium New Orleans LA Veterans Stadium Philadelphia PA War Memorial Stadium Buffalo NY Yankee Stadium New York NY